The Trump administration has proposed a rollback of Obama-era protections on wetlands and waterways. It’s the latest in Washington’s retreat from the global fight against climate change – as countries like China step up to meet the challenge. CGTN’s Jessica Stone has more.
On Tuesday, the White House loosened federal protections on wetlands and rivers across the country.
The Obama-era restrictions have long been opposed by farmers, ranchers, miners, and some developers.
“This rule not only violated the rule of law,” said Patrick Morrisey, the attorney general of West Virginia, “it violated common sense. Everywhere I went – and I would talk to property owners and farmers – they would know that you can’t regulate a backyard ditch the way you’d regulate the Potomac, and the Mississippi, and the Ohio.”
The proposal comes a day after protesters interrupted a U.S. event to promote fossil fuels on the sidelines of climate talks in Poland. Washington is effectively just an observer at the conference after pulling out of the 2015 Paris climate agreement, designed to limit global warming.
“Climate change is already affecting people, ecosystems, and livelihoods all around the world,” said Hoesung Lee, chair of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change. “Limiting warming to 1.5 degrees is not fiscally impossible but would require unprecedented transitions in all aspects of society.”
After years of industrial-led growth, Beijing has implemented a number of reforms – pledging last year to build what it called a “beautiful China” – in response to increasing public pressure to improve the environment.
This year, Beijing began a new system to tax air, water, noise, and solid waste pollution. It also increased government accountability for protecting water quality and hiked penalties for illegal discharges.
In July, the environment ministry reported the country’s overall groundwater quality had improved in the first half of the year.
With just 6 percent of the globe’s freshwater supply, China needs every clean drop it can find.
As for the United States, analysts say the Trump administration’s new water rules are likely to be tied up in the courts for at least the next two years. So a resolution may arrive just in time for the next U.S. presidential election.